by Glen Peak
As I was watching Justin Timberlake’s crowdsourcing effort for his 901 Tequila brand, I was amazed at his proposal.
With almost no information about the product’s goals, messaging or even target market available, how can he hope to get relevant ideas that will generate interest in the brand beyond the first five minutes of buzz?
I can’t “prove” this, but it’s my sense that a lot of advertising—all media forms, including sales collateral—is developed without a clear-cut creative strategy. This sense, born out of experience, seems particularly true in smaller companies that might not have a fully staffed or thoroughly trained marketing department. I’ve also seen loosely defined (if not completely undefined) assignments coming out of larger companies as well. My point? Operating without a well-defined strategy for creative work presents huge risks:
• The audience won’t “get” or understand the value of the product/service, and the dollars spent to produce and distribute the message and materials are significantly wasted.
• The client and agency have no foundation to assess the creative work and render judgment on whether it can work – no matter “how clever” it is in someone’s judgment.
• The strategy makes the agency’s work more focused and therefore, more likely to produce on-target work in less time (read: “save money”).
• When clients and agencies agree to a strategy up front, it minimizes chances for disappointment in the work.
So, if it’s this important, why isn’t there a strategy written to guide the development of all types of advertising? This includes: sales brochures, web content, commercials, ads, etc.
Probable answer: It’s hard work, takes time, is not glamorous and requires studying the target audience’s needs and wants. It involves getting into their heads, deciding what’s unique about your advertising style and knowing how the competition has presented themselves.
So, how often have you looked at some piece of communication and wondered, “Why should I value this product or service? How will it benefit me?” or “How is this different from what I am now using or doing?”
A good advertising agency will insist on a strategy agreement at the beginning to avoid wasting time and money. There are even tests that can be applied to judging the merit of the strategy itself, but we’ll save that for another blog post…